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Is Ethiopia’s Bloody Civil War at an End?
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Is Ethiopia’s Bloody Civil War at an End?

‘The devil will be in the implementation.’

Happy Friday! We can’t believe the Le Gruyère AOP Surchoix beat out the Gorgonzola Dolce DOP at the World Cheese Awards this week. Totally rigged.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was shot in the leg yesterday at a political rally calling for snap elections, an attack that party members are calling a political assassination attempt. One person reportedly died and several others were injured in the shooting, and police have arrested a suspect. Without providing evidence, Khan has blamed current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif—who led April’s successful effort to oust Khan from office—Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and intelligence leader Maj. Gen. Faisal Naseer for Thursday’s attack. Sharif condemned the shooting, but Khan’s supporters have begun protesting across Pakistan.
  • The FBI’s Newark office announced Thursday—without specifying details—that it had received “credible information of a broad threat to synagogues” in New Jersey and urged security precautions. State Attorney General Matt Platkin said law enforcement would increase patrols in “sensitive areas” out of caution. “To those who made these antisemitic terroristic threats: We will not cower,” New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer said in a statement, blaming anti-Semitic comments from public figures like rapper Kanye West and basketball player Kyrie Irving for contributing to a rise in antisemitic incidents. The Brooklyn Nets suspended Irving on Thursday for at least five games after he repeatedly refused to apologize for promoting a film laden with anti-Semitic tropes. Irving apologized shortly after his suspension was handed down.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that her husband Paul was released from the hospital yesterday and will continue recovering from last weekend’s attack at home. The Department of Homeland Security confirmed yesterday that the alleged attacker in the case, a 42-year-old man, was in the United States illegally after entering from Canada years ago.
  • White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters yesterday that U.S. Embassy officials in Russia met with detained WNBA star Brittney Griner for the first time since Griner’s appeal of her nearly decade-long prison sentence—which the United States holds is wrongful—was rejected. “We are told she’s doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances,” Jean-Pierre said.
  • Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comeback is official, with the country’s election committee releasing final results yesterday showing a coalition led by Netanyahu’s Likud Party—and joined by the far-right Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit parties—held 64 seats in the 120-member Knesset. Current Prime Minister Yair Lapid called Netanyahu to concede, and issued a statement wishing him well. “The State of Israel comes before any political consideration,” he said.
  • CVS and Walgreens announced this week they had tentatively reached agreements on two separate settlements worth approximately $5 billion to resolve a number of lawsuits against the pharmacies over their handling of prescription painkillers and alleged contribution to the United States’ opioid crisis. 

Ethiopia Agrees to Silence the Guns

Redwan Hussein (L) of the Ethiopian government and Getachew Reda (R) of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) shake hands during a press conference regarding the African Union-led negotiations to resolve conflict in Ethiopia on November 2, 2022. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP via Getty Images.)

Ethiopia’s two years of war have killed thousands of people, displaced millions, and driven many more to the brink of death via starvation or preventable diseases. Now the conflict might be coming to an end.

After about a week of peace talks in South Africa, negotiators for the primary combatants—Ethiopia’s federal army and Tigrayan forces—announced Wednesday they’d agreed to a permanent ceasefire. “The two parties in the Ethiopian conflict have formally agreed to the cessation of hostilities as well as to systematic, orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament,” African Union mediation team leader and former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo said at a press conference.

Though tensions reach back decades, the current conflict broke out in November 2020. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had come to power in 2018 after the fall of a decades-long ruling coalition led by Tigrayans, and he won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for ending a longstanding border conflict with neighboring Eritrea. But he alienated already disgruntled Tigrayans, and tensions eventually escalated into violence. Territory changed hands—Ethiopia’s federal army driving into Tigray, Tigrayan forces threatening Ethiopia’s capital—but the fighting eased somewhat in December after Abiy decided not to follow retreating Tigrayan troops. A humanitarian truce declared in March gave citizens some relief from the bloodshed but also allowed both sides to prepare for more fighting. The ceasefire dissolved in August, and in recent weeks Ethiopia’s army has made significant gains, taking several towns.

Human rights groups have accused all sides of atrocities—the United Nations has documented sexual violence, mass killings, looting, and forced displacement—though the combatants deny these charges. Ethiopian troops have enforced a de facto blockade on aid entering Tigray, leaving thousands starving or short of crucial medical supplies like insulin. “There is no other situation globally in which six million people have been kept under siege for almost two years,” World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is from Tigray, said in mid-October. “Banking, fuel, food, electricity and health care are being used as weapons of war. Media is also not allowed and destruction of civilians is done in darkness. … There is a very narrow window now to prevent genocide in Tigray.”

This unfolding disaster—and recent military losses—seem to have driven Tigrayan leaders to the bargaining table, while Ethiopia’s government is facing economic fallout from the war and drought and needs continuing international aid, which comes with pressure to make peace. The full text of the agreement hasn’t yet been released, but it seems to favor Ethiopia’s central government: Abiy said the deal “has been accepted 100 percent,” while Tigray’s lead negotiator described it as including “painful concessions.” 

Tigrayan forces have reportedly agreed to disarm within a month—leaders from both sides will meet in the coming days to determine exactly how—and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front has dropped its claim to regional governance, while Ethiopia’s government will halt its recent offensive and allow humanitarian aid to enter Tigray. Meanwhile, Ethiopian security forces will take charge of all “major infrastructure” in Tigray, “expedite” humanitarian aid, restore basic services in Tigray—electricity, water, banking—and lift the terrorist designation for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front party. Humanitarian workers in Tigray told the Associated Press they hadn’t heard gunfire in recent days, though people and vehicles still didn’t have freedom of movement. 

Troops from Ethiopia’s Amhara region and neighboring Eritrea have fought alongside Ethiopia’s federal army and weren’t involved in the peace talks, raising questions about whether they’ll abide by the peace agreement. The Amhara Association of America said in a statement Wednesday that “any agreement or process that fails to recognize [contested territories] as Amhara will not be acceptable by Amharas and as such will not bring lasting peace.” The Eritrean government—whose forces have been blamed for civilian killings even during the peace talks—has not commented.

With so much uncertainty remaining, international observers are hopeful the ceasefire will succeed—but only cautiously so. “I urge all Ethiopians to seize this opportunity for peace,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday. Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who helped facilitate the talks, was more blunt: “The devil will be in the implementation.”

Our Kind of Town, Chicago Is

What a night! Thank you to everyone who came out for our regional event in Chicago yesterday—we were blown away by the turnout and enthusiasm. Always nice to be in a room full of Bears fans. [Editor: Fake news. There were many, many Packer fans there, too. And one guy pretending to like the Vikings.] If you’re ever in the West Loop, be sure to check out Midwest Coast Brewing Co!

Worth Your Time

  • What’s it like to wake up to a phone call telling you you’re on your way to COVID-19 quarantine in China? Thomas Hale got that call, and in the Financial Times, he describes what happened next. “The facility consisted of neat rows of what might be described as cabins, each one a shipping container-like box, sitting on short stilts above the ground,” Hale writes. “Inside my 196-sq-ft cabin there were two single beds, a kettle, an air-conditioning unit, a desk, a chair, a bowl, two small cloths, one bar of soap, an unopened duvet, a small pillow, a toothbrush, one tube of toothpaste and a roll-up mattress roughly the thickness of an oven glove. The floor was covered in dust and grime. The whole place shook when you walked around, which I soon stopped noticing. The window was barred, though you could still lean out. There was no shower. When I checked the internet connection, it was 24 times faster than the internet in my Shanghai hotel.”
  • If you’re already bracing yourself for Thanksgivings spent with conspiratorial loved ones, Arthur Brooks’ latest column in The Atlantic is for you. He gets into some of the under-recognized reasons people embrace conspiracy theories and offers some advice for constructive engagement. “These unpopular views can create a sense of kinship among people who hold them—sort of like unpopular tastes or esoteric knowledge,” Brooks writes. “Plus, conspiracy theories can be, well, fun. Think of all the movies you’ve enjoyed where the hero has to get to the bottom of something that powerful, bad people are secretly doing. People find conspiracies entertaining in real life too.” That doesn’t erase the harms that embracing certain conspiracy theories can bring, but it might help reframe how you approach these loved ones. “Sometimes, the problem with conspiracy theories isn’t that others hold them, but that we focus on them alone, making things unnecessarily unpleasant,” Brooks writes. “When you think about it carefully, you might just conclude that being right is less valuable than enjoying some love in your life.”
  • John Ganz offers a rebuttal to the Josh Barro piece we included in yesterday’s TMD, which argued against Democrats pitching themselves as the only option for pro-democracy voters. “I agree it’s a problem that only one party has an actual commitment to democracy and that it fundamentally upsets the system, but the problem was not created by Democratic party rhetoric,” Ganz writes. “More than half of Republican party candidates for office in this election continue to claim that the 2020 election was stolen. The Republican gubernatorial candidate in Wisconsin said, ‘Republicans will never lose another election in Wisconsin after I’m elected governor.’ And once again … the former Republican president, still their party’s most popular politician and likely their 2024 candidate, attempted to overturn the previous election.”

Presented Without Comment

Also Presented Without Comment

Also Also Presented Without Comment

Toeing the Company Line

  • What is the International Telecommunications Union, and why should you be delighted that the United States has just won leadership of it for the next four years? Klon explains all in Thursday’s edition of The Current (🔒). Plus: the potential national security implications of Elon Musk taking over Twitter with the help of Saudi Arabia.
  • With less than a week until the midterms, we’re in full countdown mode. Sarah, David, and Jonah came together for the latest episode of The Dispatch Podcast to answer your questions: Can voters push their parties to be better? What’s the best way to engage your representatives? When is Nick Catoggio joining the pod? Plus: reactions to Biden’s second big democracy-in-peril speech.
  • On the site today, Andrew breaks down the reasons why it make take a few days to learn who won the Senate next week, Ronan O’Callaghan explains the political dynamics surrounding the attack on Pakistan’s Imran Khan, and John Gustavsson reminds us that, for all the Tories’ troubles, Britain’s Labour Party faces plenty of internal challenges too.

Let Us Know

Where should we be planning our next regional Dispatch event?

Declan Garvey is the executive editor at the Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2019, he worked in public affairs at Hamilton Place Strategies and market research at Echelon Insights. When Declan is not assigning and editing pieces, he is probably watching a Cubs game, listening to podcasts on 3x speed, or trying a new recipe with his wife.

Esther Eaton is a former deputy editor of The Morning Dispatch.